Maralinga visit

Submitted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 15:50
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I have just returned from a six week trip to WA south west and visited Maralinga on the way over. We were stopped by the side of the road at Penong and Robin saw my number plates and stopped to ask when we were meeting him at the gate. What a great bloke he is and the tour is worth every $ and effort to get out there. Robin is run off his feet keeping abreast of all that needs to be done, let me tell you. Now how is this for an idea. As a lot will know Farina in SA has a "Friends of Farina" project where interested people camp at Farina a few times a year and get involved in work to restore the precinct. Robin could do with some help so I reckon a "Friends of Maralinga" would help get some of the jobs done around the campground etc that Robin and his family are hard pressed to do. I am afraid that if Mr Mathews retires from his post that his huge knowledge of Maralinga may be lost, and access could become difficult again, unless our community lends a hand. As a tourism venture it is very early days yet and Robin has some good plans for the future, but he needs a hand to get them up and happening.
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Reply By: OBJ - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:01

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:01
I'm there July. What does he need? Our permit only lasts for the day of the tour.
OBJ
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:12

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:12
hi there OBJ, when in July might you be there as I also shall be there about 24th (Thursday) of July to do the tour and meet up with Robin
location - Warragul -Victoria
life is too short, so out and about enjoy

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Follow Up By: OBJ - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 18:46

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 18:46
Hi GarryR.
I am there July 1st, tour day July 2. Very much looking forward to this trip. I will watch this thread in case Stephen has an idea.
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Follow Up By: Sapper D - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 20:22

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 20:22
Leaving Gippsland this week to meet Robin next week for the May26 tour-from what I've read it sounds great--looking forward to it
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Follow Up By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 19:09

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 19:09
We will be there around the 1st and 2nd of July so I would be more than willing to help out for a day or so. I will check it out when I get there.

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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:08

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:08
Hi
jamesw,
been to Maralinga a couple of times in the recent yrs myself ,
what an interesting place , an isn,t Robin a walking encylopedia !! of the area .
both times there Robins wife Della was not around , she is very lovely lady too
cheers mechpete
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:46

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:46
When i was at Maralinga in 2013 with the ExplorOz Tour organised by Stephen L we did carry out some housekeeping as 'Friends'.
Yours is a good idea and I wait to see what Stephen makes of it. If anyone could organise such an arrangement it would be Stephen.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 20:51

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 20:51
Hi Allan

Yes we sure all put in some time there helping Robin out while he was not there.

If you count that one visit alone, it was 17 full days work, (very person spent a whole day as a group effort to show Robin our sincere thanks) from cleaning every donga, cleaning all the toilets and showers, emptying all the rubbish bins, cleaning the airport hanger from top to bottom, cleaning Fort Maralinga, removing hundreds of cans into sorted boxes and the list goes on. Then David and Andrew went back for a weeks to completely swap over his workshop, and even last year again we all did a lot of work from cleaning up the dongas, collecting lots of fire wood and cutting it up for future visitors, rubbish removal and then when John returned, spent a day welding for Robin. This is the work we all did from my groups alone.

The trouble is that all the great work that guests do to make it look better for the next group that will arrive, falls into as sad state if the next group does not follow on to keep it clean, and then when the next kind group offer to help out, they are stuck with a big job of trying to get things clean again.

It would be great to form a group, but how do you keep it going year round.


Just my thoughts.



Cheers


Stephen


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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:10

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:10
Yes Stephen, keeping up the momentum is the hardest part.
By the way, who is that bloke in the red coat? lol
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:18

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:18
Ha ha Allan, it could be Father Christmas wearing an EO hat....lol



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Follow Up By: OBJ - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 07:29

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 07:29
Stephen.
I'd be happy to help out. How are you able to manage it with a one day permit?
Cheers
OBJ
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 08:43

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 08:43
Ho OBJ

When we been to Maralinga in the past, it has never been for just one day. As there is so much to see and take in, I have always advised visitors to do a 2 day range tour and then a day a more to just take in the area around the village and south near Watson and Ooldea.

So if you were there for only one day, you would not have the time to help Robin out.



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Follow Up By: OBJ - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 16:35

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 16:35
Hi Stephen.
Thanks for that. The permit we were given was just the one for the tour. It's like a three day pass .. arrive day 1 - Tour Day 2 and out Day 3. I was unaware that there was an option to extend. Gives me an excuse to come back.
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 10:29

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 10:29
Last year I led a group of 16 from the Melbourne based Idlers Four Wheel Drive Club to Maralinga and we where there for 3 days. We certainly left it better than we found it by all pitching in and doing a bit of "housekeeping". We had a great time as you usually do there, and we were fortunate that Della was well at the time and we were able to enjoy her company and hear a bit from her. We all discussed something similar to a "Friends of Maralinga", maybe try and organise a group of Idlers to go over once a year for a bit of a clean up. Like most 4WD Clubs we have helped various land managers over the years maintain their assets, particularly after natural disasters such as floods and bushfires. Unfortunately the enthusiasm wanes when land managers hike their fees to unreasonable levels which is what has happened with Parks Victoria and Maralinga. I would assume that all monies collected go to the Maralinga Tjarutja people, so maybe they should do something to earn this money. There are no free lunches, if there is not value for money people will not come. Another option that the Maralinga Tjarutja people could consider would be to make available to groups, some sort of package that discounts or waives fees in return for doing some "Housekeeping".
For anyone who has not done the tour of Maralinga with Robin Mathews it is a very unique experience and a must do, particularly if you were around when these nuclear tests were being conducted. Its unfortunate about the current costs of this tour but there is not much you can do about it, and Robin is not going to be able to do it forever.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
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Follow Up By: Geoff N (NSW) - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 22:26

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 22:26
I agree with what Chris has said. If the Oak Valley folk expect to profit from the tourism venture (which has already received considerable taxpayer grants), they really need to assist in the development. I've visited Maralinga twice and would really have liked to have found out more about the cultural aspects of the area including the Ooldea soak.
On another aspect, I was following their Facebook page but it has been taken over by someone more interested in victim politics than promoting a successful commercial venture. This is not helpful.
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Follow Up By: jamesw - Friday, May 22, 2015 at 09:36

Friday, May 22, 2015 at 09:36
Geoff N, I agree that the Oak Valley community needs to be involved into the future, and I too would like to see some indigenous history and culture incorporated into the visit somehow. But, considering the past history and how the indigenous people were treated you can understand that they may be still hesitant to venture onto that land and be involved in the operation of the tours. Maybe the increasing numbers of interested visitors may sway them to become pro active. I do hope so.

James
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 22, 2015 at 14:10

Friday, May 22, 2015 at 14:10
Hi James and Geoff

We must all be reading from the same page. I have asked Robin a number of times that it would be great to have Aboriginal people there to give an insight into their culture etc.

Robin claims that because 17 families disappeared after and during the tests, they will no longer go near the area fearing death.

Then again on the other hand, when we were out at Oak Valley Community last year, the then Manager there, Andrew was saying that many of the Elders there would like to see Oak Valley open up as an open community, and to get visitors from Maralinga to travel out to Oak Valley, where they utilise the services of there fuel supplies, general store and art centre.

We all like to try and help out where we can, but with increased cost having more than doubled, many may feel that there is no incentive to offer any help.


Just my thoughts



Cheers


Stephen
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, May 22, 2015 at 15:04

Friday, May 22, 2015 at 15:04
We are reading from the same page because it is logical. There are many of us who have travelled widely through outback Australia and seen tourism opportunities being wasted. While they get sit down money where is the incentive to change? The fact that people have been lost in the past is being used as a convenient excuse. On my last visit to Maralinga I met Dennis and his nephew. Dennis was in his 70's and while officially retired he was at Maralinga driving the grader and he had his nephew along in an effort to teach him that work is a good thing. Robin had asked him to drive the grader because he could not get anyone else. Dennis was a great bloke to talk to and it was very clear to him that if you did not work and become in control of your own destiny then you had nothing. He could not stop telling me about the V8 Land Cruiser he had brought a few weeks earlier all with his own earnings. One can only hope that the Dennis's of this world (and I have met quite a few) can convince their brothers that sit down money is the path to unhappiness and that work will give you control of your own life. Robin needs to try harder to convince his people of the realities of life. My only wish is, is there is anything that I could do to help Robin in this regard. Because if there is I am sure there are plenty of us white fellas who would gladly help.
If you go to Maralinga take the opportunity to give Robin an ear full that the Maralinga Tjarutja and Pila Nguru people are missing some opportunities to better the lives of themselves.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
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Follow Up By: jamesw - Friday, May 22, 2015 at 20:57

Friday, May 22, 2015 at 20:57
I posted a comment on the Maralinga Tours FB page re the political posts, and the reply was that the posts concerning the ongoing problems of the community may be of interest. My follow up can be read on the FB page rather than here. The tourism venture could be a great thing IF the community takes long term ownership, and I hope that they do. I hope to do a return visit and take another group of my 4WD club members to experience a fantastic place.

James
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 23:23

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 23:23
I'll add my vote to all the positive comments about the work that Robin Matthews does at Maralinga.
Have just done the trip found it absolutely fascinating - Robin's knowledge of the place based on 40+ years of experience in the area makes for a very rewarding full day tour. It is a significant slice of Aboriginal, British and Australian history that is very little understood.
We only had the two nights in there with the tour on the intervening day and apart from the tour there is heaps to see and discover as you wander around the village area.
While it's only about three hours in to the site from Ceduna, on sealed and mainly good standard gravel roads, we came across a group that had gone up Googs Track and then along the Anne Beadell to come in from the northern end of the site.
I reckon this would make it an even more appealing trip without any backtracking, and maybe would help add more travellers to the "circuit" and help to encourage a Farina style "friends of Maralinga" movement as suggested.
But, whichever way you get there, this is a highly recommended destination - and many thanks to Robin for making the story come alive for us.
Cheers
Wildmax
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